Iranian Center for International Criminal Law Requests the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to Open a Preliminary Examination into War Crimes in Yemen

Today, July 1st, 2019, Iranian Center for International Criminal Law (ICICL) filed a communication under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requesting the Prosecutor to open a preliminary examination on war crimes allegedly committed by the so-called Saudi-led Coalition from 2015 and during the ongoing non-international armed conflict in Yemen.

The communication is submitted with the aim of supporting Yemini victims by bringing those individuals responsible for the commission of most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole to justice, and fighting against impunity which Yemen has been suffering from for a long time by offering the Prosecutor a path to justice that should be followed.

In its communication, ICICL has provided legal arguments based on publicly available information, disseminated by UN bodies, independent NGOs and the media, in order to convince the Prosecutor to initiate preliminary investigations on the alleged war crimes committed on the territory of Yemen, namely intentionally directing attacks against civilians; intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in humanitarian assistance missions; attacks against buildings dedicated to hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected; intentionally directing attacks against protected objects, including buildings dedicated to education.

Since 2011, Yemen has been the theatre of a number of simultaneous and overlapping armed conflicts, but the current armed conflict in Yemen is taking place between the forces loyal to the self-appointed President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis. In 2015, a coalition of certain States, mostly from the Arab world led by Saudi Arabia, intervened in the conflict in support of Mansour Hadi and conducted several armed attacks against the Yemeni people. Based on publicly available documents and surveys conducted by international NGOs or organs of the UN, these attacks, in many occasions, were in violation of the rules and principles of international law, and in particular, international humanitarian law.

Yemen is not a State Party to the Court, and, therefore, the ICC lacks territorial jurisdiction to engage in the situation of Yemen. The communique, nevertheless, has relied on personal jurisdiction of the World’s Criminal Court with regard to Jordanian, and to some extent British, nationals, since Jordan and United Kingdom are both States Parties to the Rome Statute, and have been involved in the current armed conflict in Yemen. Jordan is one of the members of the Saudi-led Coalition, and UK has been supplying the Coalition with weaponry and intelligence information, and as the communication, argues, officials of these States are responsible, whether as the principal or accessory, for the crimes committed by the Coalition in Yemen.

ICC is an international criminal court established in 2002 by the Rome Statute to fight against impunity around the world by prosecuting individuals responsible for the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. To date, there are 122 States parties to the Rome Statute.

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